The former El Paso congressman said he and his hometown would not be silent about "an act of terror" he said was inspired by the president's racism.
President Donald Trump lashed out at Beto O'Rourke late Tuesday night, saying the Democratic presidential candidate and former congressman from El Paso should "be quiet" about the deadly shooting in his hometown.
The Twitter missive came hours before Trump was set to visit the city, which is reeling from the massacre Saturday at a Walmart that left 22 people dead and more than two dozen wounded. Along with other El Paso Democrats, O'Rourke has linked the shooting to Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric and said the president should not visit.
The accused gunman, from Allen outside of Dallas, allegedly left a racist manifesto that described the attack as a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Federal officials have catalogued the massacre as domestic terrorism.
"Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O'Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement - & be quiet!" Trump tweeted.
"Beto" is a Spanish nickname that O'Rourke has had since his childhood. He responded to the president on Twitter early Wednesday.
"22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism. El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I," O'Rourke said.
Trump was last in El Paso in February, when he held a campaign rally and O'Rourke headlined a dueling event. The president's campaign has yet to reimburse the city more than $470,000 for police and public safety services associated with his rally. O'Rourke has since paid what he owed the city for his rally. Trump also visited Texas last year to hold a rally in Houston with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz when O'Rourke was running against him.
Trump is scheduled to touch down early Wednesday afternoon in El Paso and stay for a few hours. The White House has not released any details about what he plans to do there.
Around the time Trump arrives in El Paso, O'Rourke is scheduled to attend an event "to honor those lives lost, confront President Trump and white supremacy, and demand responsible gun control."